I’ve got two words for you: Sar-no.
Yesterday I had a conversation with Mike about my in-ear woes and he told me how he had the guitar in his mix, and it was something I was on the edge of considering anyway, only with a little extra added benefit. I was considering changing my mix and pushing the guitar off to the left side and bringing the bass back to the middle. It would create more of an album mix instead of trying to reflect the phyiscal proximity of everything on stage. That thought had occurred to me already but the little bit extra was that Mike put the guitar reverb on the opposite side! Cool idea! The thinking was that it would get the guitar out of my face and put me even more in the room and Mike said it sounded really good in his mix.
So. Brad Sarno. I’ve been hearing about him for years, about how he’s the preamp guru; about how he’s helped various guitarists get the elusive “Garcia Tone” and whatnot. And Mike mentioned that he was coming to the show. 🙂 Perfect!
So he came down early to check out my rig and I explained the issues I was having with the IEMs (In Ear Monitors). Actually before I even got a chance to do that he said he had something for me to try and he handed me his handmade distortion pedal, the Earth Drive. So we plugged that into my pedal board and compared it to my other two distortions, the AC Booster and the OCD. It was unbelievably good! It was so responsive to touch, kept the bottom end intact and had a very buttery sound but still crisp. Sold! I actually put it in place of my AC Booster, my favorite distortion on the planet.
Then he recommended a different mic for the amp. They’d had a Sennheiser 421 on it and he said that that was a very crisp sounding speech mic that was good for a variety of applications, but said that I might warm my sound up a bit by using a Sennheiser 609 instead. Then he mentioned that they also made a 906 which was closer to the original discontinued 409 and it just so happens that Rachel (our FOH) had a 906! I know, a lot of tech talk, but the 409, 609 and 906 are recognizable as the square looking mics Pink Floyd sing into in the Live In Pompeii film. And it didn’t disappoint. At the show last night I had the best mix I’ve ever had with the IEMs and it gave me back my guitar voice so I was able to really play the way I like. Amazing!
But in spite of the great mix, the first set last night seemed a little disconnected and that was reflected in what the other guys were saying during the break. I sat down with Craig and we examined the set list for the second set and decided to make a couple changes. Probably the most important change we made was to start the set with my song, Jones. That’s a tune that Creek starts a lot of sets with and there’s a good reason for it: It puts everybody in the groove. It enabled us to do a reset of the show and was exactly what was needed. Second set was a smoker!
Another thing we did was some EEL stuff (the audience interaction piece) near the end of the break. So when we came on for the second set the crowd was in the middle of jamming out on the EEL and we just joined in jamming with them and eventually working our way to Jones.
All in all yesterday was a great learning experience, and as a result my experience on this tour is going to be much better. And the Sarno Earth Drive is a large contributor to that. I highly recommend this pedal to anyone “searching for the sound.”
Now to work on my bowling skills….. cheers!